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Ask the right questions when dividing property

As you go to court to divide property during your divorce, it’s crucial that you ask all of the right questions and gather as much information as you can. A few questions to consider include the following: — Is there anything that could make the marriage invalid? This can happen in some cases, and it may mean you’re not obligated to split up your property the same way you would be if the marriage is valid. — What is the exact date that you and your spouse have separated? Property obtained after that date but before the divorce often doesn’t have to be divided. This way, if the divorce takes months to come together, you don’t have to split up your earnings from after the marriage is effectively over. — Do you know all of the property that you and your spouse own? You are both required to declare this to the court. Look over the records carefully, especially if you think that your spouse may try to hide assets from you. — Did you sign a prenup when you got married? This can have a drastic impact on property division, and you need to know exactly what it does. — Have you identified your debts? Remember that property division is about dividing debts as well as assets, and the way these debts are split may even have more of a long-lasting impact on your life than the division of property. To learn more about the divorce process in Massachusetts,

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Financial divorce documents you may need

For those getting divorced, it’s very easy to focus on the social and emotional sides of the split. While these things are important, it’s crucial to remember the legal side of the divorce, as well, and it comes with a lot of documentation. You don’t want to overlook anything, so consider the following examples of documents you may need: 1. Change of ownership forms that go along with your investments. If you’re saving for retirement, you want to make sure that you still have access to your funds — and that you’re the only one who does. 2. Beneficiary alteration forms. You probably listed your spouse as the beneficiary on your life insurance policy, and it is time to change it over to another relative, such as a sibling or a child. 3. A Qualified Domestic Relations Order, commonly known as a QDRO. This can be used if you get benefits — like a pension plan — from your employer. Your spouse may be entitled to a portion of those benefits. 4. Title change forms for your major assets. Things like your family home or your car may be in both of your names. Most couples either transfer these assets into just one person’s name or sell them off and divide the money. 5. Your will. This is perhaps the most important document to alter after a divorce, as you want to be sure the right people are given your estate when you pass away. It can be tough to

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What judges consider regarding alimony

If you’ve asked for alimony in your divorce filing or filed a Complaint for Alimony after the fact, you’re probably wondering how much you can get and how a judge determines what should be paid out. Every situation is a bit different — there is no strict law saying a set level of alimony must be paid — so the judge has to look at a variety of factors and make a specific ruling in every case. Some of these factors include the following: — How long you and your spouse were married before getting divorced.– How old you are and how old your spouse is; this is important when determining if you can still enter the workforce and earn money yourself.– Your overall health and the health of your spouse.– The contributions you both made to the marriage, both economic and non-economic.– Any economic opportunities that one of you gave up when getting married.– Your current income levels.– Your employment situation and your ability to be employed going forward.– What each of you needs to keep the same standard of living. Essentially, the court is just trying to figure out what it will take for both of you to keep living the way you were before the split. If you quit your job 20 years ago and have little hope of gainful employment, for example, because you thought your spouse would be there to support you, the court wants to provide some support even though you’re divorcing, as you

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How to divorce a wealthy spouse when you have few assets

When there is a great disparity between the individual wealth of the spouses in a high asset divorce, the marital assets and resources can become symbolic of the failure of the marriage. When this happens, sometimes one spouse will unreasonably try to tie up a divorce in order to exact a kind of revenge on the other. Former partners can get hopelessly bogged down haggling over wine collections or antique cars and running up their respective attorneys’ bills. Mediation may be helpful when trying to reach accord on some sticking point in a high asset divorce. One thing that is important to consider when there are children involved is that it can foster confusion and resentment in the kids when one parent has a vastly different lifestyle than the other post-divorce. When one parent earns a great deal of money or comes from a background of wealth but the other parent has few resources, children shuttling back and forth between the two may struggle with living two very different lifestyles. Ensuring that the less well-heeled spouse does not end up penurious is often the best solution for all concerned. This doesn’t mean that the parents will have the same amount of wealth, but will provide the minor children with all that they need to live comfortably in both households. If you have concerns over the financial settlement in your pending divorce because your soon-to-be ex-spouse is independently wealthy, retaining a family law attorney who is very familiar with asset valuation

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Should you lose custody for smoking around your children?

Should child custody be denied to a parent who smokes around his or her children? That was one of the topics tackled recently at the annual International Society for Family Law’s North American Regional Conference. Family law attorneys and law professors heard from a public interest law professor known for taking on the tobacco industry. He told attendees that the issue of whether a parent smokes should be brought up in child custody proceedings. If a parent seeking any type of custody or visitation rights smokes, he argued, that parent should be required to abstain from smoking in their home for at least two days before the child will be there. Several cases were discussed in which parents who smoked lost custody because they did not refrain from doing so around their children. While such proposals may be controversial, second-hand smoke is a serious health issue, particularly for children, who can suffer from any number of ailments due to parental smoking. The conference attendees were told that over 6,000 kids in the U.S. die annually because their parents smoke around them. Further, “More young children are killed by parental smoking than by all unintentional injuries combined.” The professor compared the responsibilities of family law attorneys to help prevent the serious health risks of parental smoking to children with those of emergency room physicians. He said that family law attorneys “can and should be using the great power of law to right serious wrongs being done to children.” The professor used

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How much can be taken through wage garnishment?

If your ex is ordered to pay alimony or child support and then he or she does not pay, wage garnishment can sometimes be used to get back the money that is owed. This is a preferred method because the wages are garnished before they pass from the employer to the employee, so there is no way for your ex to stop that money from coming to you. It is important to know that there are some limits on wage garnishment that are set up by Title III of the Consumer Credit Protection Act. You’re not likely going to get all of the money that is owed at once. The two basic limits are: — 50 percent of the total personal earnings. This can be done if your ex has remarried and then he or she is supporting the second family. If your spouse is supporting a child, the 50 percent limit is also used. — 60 percent of the total personal earnings. This limit is used when your ex is not married and does not have a child or a family to support. In addition, it’s important to note that an extra 5 percent could be added on to the above if the payment totals have been in arrears for at least 12 weeks. This means the maximum total that could be reached is 65 percent of the earnings from each paycheck. As you can see, the amount that can be deducted is quite significant and could have a

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Standards that can help children during divorce

When a relationship comes to an end, if there are children involved, the divorce can be quite hard for them. This is true for same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples alike. Below are a few standards that can be used to help kids at this time. 1. Remember that the other parent also has rights regarding the kids, and be sure to support and uphold those rights. 2. Allow children to keep relationships with both parents. This means not doing anything to limit the involvement of your ex in the kids’ lives. This may be hard for you in such an emotional situation, but it is best for the children. 3. Take your time with the breakup. Do not make rash, emotional decisions. Instead, clearly think through every decision and what it’s going to mean for everyone involved. 4. Keep providing for the child and supporting him or her. If you have custody, you will likely provide some sort of support almost every single day. Even if you don’t, though, there are many ways you can still support your child — including the financial side — and help his or her growth and development. 5. Focus on consistency. The end goal should be to make sure that life changes as little as possible for the child, even when you and your spouse break up. All decisions — like where to live — can be based around this ideal. This can be hard to do, and it’s important to know all of

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Why it’s best to buy a home after your divorce is final

If you’re thinking about buying a new home and you’re also going through a divorce–perhaps the two are very closely related–it is often best to buy the house after you finalize the paperwork. You don’t have to, and there are ways to buy during the divorce, but there is one big reason why you should wait: Your ex may try to claim partial ownership of your new home. The issue here is that your money belongs to both of you, and it needs to be split up. If you take some of that money and buy the house outright or put a down payment on the mortgage, you’re using money that wasn’t fully yours. You’re also acquiring an asset that your spouse may feel is partially his or hers, as you technically own it while the two of you are married. Again, there are ways to get around this. You could have some written agreement with your spouse showing that the home is yours alone. You could rush to finalize the property division process so that you have your own money to use. Divorce can take time, and you can’t always put your life on hold. If you do want to buy, make sure you looking to all of the legal steps to take in Massachusetts to protect yourself. However, the very best option in most cases is to put your purchase on hold. Rent an apartment on a month-to-month basis and live that way for a few months, until

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Who Prepares a QDRO?

QDROs are not neutral decrees. Each party should have their own attorney to prepare or review the document. This way each party has a legal professional who will look after their best interests. At the same time, it is important to choose an attorney who has extensive experience working with QDRO’s. Your attorney should have a deep understanding of asset division. Mistakes and omissions can be financially detrimental to either or both parties. For example, if you or your spouse have a pension plan, it’s best to seek advice from an attorney who can prepare a QDRO that meets the plan requirements and contains favorable terms that meet your interests. After everything is done, the alternate payee is informed as to how and when benefits will be given. Many pension plan benefits are tax deferred, and taxes are paid as monthly payments are received. Some plans offer options to roll over the benefits into an IRA and are tax deferred until retirement age. To discuss your issue, please contact David M. Gabriel and Associates to set a consultation.

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Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO)

In Massachusetts, when a divorce occurs, retirement assets typically fall into two categories: (1) assets acquired before the marriage; or (2) assets acquired during the marriage. In shorter term marriages assets may not be subject to division, however retirement funds acquired during the marriage are generally subject to division and treated as a marital asset. There are no hard and fast rules regarding the division of retirement funds, however, and a skilled divorce attorney may be able to argue to a judge to depart from the conventional wisdom depending on the facts of a particular case. Retirement funds may require a special court order to divide them pursuant to a divorce. If so, the court will issue a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (“QDRO”) to divide the asset. The QDRO is usually prepared by the parties with the assistance of an actuary. Prior to completion the QDRO is reviewed by the retirement plan administrator. Upon completion of the review process the QDRO is submitted to the judge assigned to the case for court approval and returned to the parties for submission to the plan administrator, who implements the terms of the QDRO. Attorney David M. Gabriel and his team of lawyers works with experienced retirement and pension appraisers, in order to determine the value of the retirement assets in question, including current values, past values, projected values based upon retirement age and coverture values. Coverture value is legal term used to describe the value of an asset and its proportionate increase

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